Socratic Literature and the Socratic Problem
- C. C. W. Taylor
‘Socratic literature and the Socratic problem’ asks what access sources give us to the historical Socrates. The only Socratic literature known to have been written before Socrates' death is comedy, which provides a contemporary caricature. Various authors produced ‘Socratic conversations’, commemorating Socrates and defending his memory against the charges made at the trial and against hostile accounts. The Socratic writings of Xenophon and Plato's Socratic dialogues are the only bodies of Socratic literature to have survived complete. In Plato's portrayal of Socrates there is no sharp line to be drawn between ‘the historical Socrates’ and ‘the Platonic Socrates’ who assumes the depersonalized role of spokesman for Plato's philosophy.